Meet Obama’s new ambassadors for entrepreneurship


Maria Contreras-Sweet (L) and US President Barack Obama applaud during a ceremonial swearing-in on the White House grounds on Monday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

The White House on Monday introduced several new ambassadors — ones it will be sending around the world to help entrepreneurs launch and grow new businesses.

Dubbed the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, the committee includes the founders of some of the nation’s most rapidly growing companies and well-known brands, like LinkedIn, Zillow and Tory Burch. Each has committed to spend time and resources to help public officials “develop the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

The move is part of a renewed push by the administration to encourage new business development not only in the United States, but globally. President Obama announced plans to assemble a panel of successful entrepreneurs to help with those efforts during a speech at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia back in October.

The Commerce Department, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will all work closely with the inaugural ambassadors, who gathered for the first time Monday for a meeting with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

“Not only are our entrepreneurs broadly recognized and admired, but all over the world countries are eager to replicate American practices of embracing and learning from failure, networking, teaching, and encouraging creativity,” Pritzker said in a statement. With the help of the committee, she said, her agency “will seek to increase the number of successful startups in the U.S. and around the globe, spurring economic growth and job creation.”

Here’s who’s on the president’s new entrepreneurship team.

Steve Case, chairman and chief executive of Revolution; co-founder of America Online

Helen Greiner, chief executive of CyPhy Works; co-founder of iRobot Corporation

Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman, LinkedIn

Rich Barton, co-founder and executive chairman of Zillow

Tory Burch, chief executive officer, Tory Burch

Quincy Jones, chief executive of Quincy Jones Productions

Salman Khan, founder and executive Director of Khan Academy

Daphne Koller, co-founder and president of Coursera

Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and chief executive of Chobani

Nina Vaca, chief executive of Pinnacle Technical Resources

Alexa von Tobel, founder and chief executive of LearnVest

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J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he manages the Post's On Small Business blog.
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